Join the Gaisce Glas Summit to build a better future
A.J. talks about the Gaisce climate justice programme and how you can get involved in the #pushforchange
By far, 2020 has been an unprecedented year. COVID-19 has impacted all of us, affecting our everyday lives. It’s been tough for all of us, but this year has shown us that people can work together to achieve a common goal – stopping the spread of COVID-19. Many things have changed this year but something that hasn’t changed is the progression of climate change.
My name is A.J. Carpio, a 17-year-old from Mayo, and I believe that people can work together to combat climate change. This is why I decided to become involved with Gaisce Glas, a 13-week pilot program run by Gaisce which focuses on climate justice.
What is climate justice?
Climate justice is all about reducing inequality. The effects of climate change are not felt equally. Richer countries like Ireland have contributed the most to climate change, but it is the poorer countries who have contributed the least to climate change, that will be the most impacted the most by it.
What is Gaisce Glas?
Gaisce Glas is made up of 12 Gaisce – The President’s Award participants from all over Ireland. The project educates young people about climate justice and gives thgaiem the skills needed to undertake climate activism. We meet once a week through Zoom meetings, and we’ve had the pleasure of having climate change guest speakers from ECO-UNESCO, YEA (Young Environmentalist Awards), YEE (Youth and Environmental Europe), Generation Climate Europe and the Young Irish Film Makers.
We launched a social media campaign on Instagram (@gaisceglas – follow us!) where in a couple of days we got over 200 followers and we want to grow it more. Our aim is to spread awareness about climate change and climate justice.
Gaisce Glas: The Push for Change
On the 10th of December, our Gaisce Glas group will be hosting a free, online summit focusing on simple changes we can make to build a better future and to slow climate change. We’re bringing in expert speakers and giving you the skills you need to take action on climate change. We would love to see you there.
We’re starting a new challenge, called #pushthepledge. All of us in the group pledged to make changes in their lives to help slow climate change and we challenged other people to do the same. We’ve pledged to walk and cycle more, eat less meat, use reusable face masks, pick up other people’s rubbish, buy from sustainable and ethical fashion brands, donate old clothes, toys and books and someone even pledged to make their own Christmas decorations to cut down on waste.
These are small, but important changes to reduce our impact on climate change. Individually, our changes might seem meaningless, but imagine what would happen if everyone made changes to their lifestyle. Our ‘small’ changes will in fact have a huge impact. We believe that everyone can change something small in their lives to slow down climate change, which is why we started #pushthepledge.
COVID-19 and Climate Change
With the relaxation of COVID 19 restrictions, our country will be up and running again. This means that businesses will reopen, people will return to work and many others will be out and about enjoying the lost comforts of everyday life. I’m not an expert, but in my opinion a lockdown was helped in the fight against climate change.
Since less people commuted to work and less people took flights, less greenhouse gases were emitted. As people were at home it meant less single use plastics were being used. It also meant that single use plastics, including our masks, weren't being disposed of, which could in turn affects wildlife, such as the animals in the oceans. Since less people went out, less litter and rubbish would have been tossed out in our streets.
I think we’ve made good progress in the fight against climate change so far. But when we reopen the country, our behaviour might threaten that progress. Even though we should enjoy going back to everyday life, we must not, and we cannot become complacent in the fight against climate change.
As citizens of the earth, need to take responsibility for protecting our planet’s future. We know the solutions to the problems. We just need to take action.
A.J. was selected to participate in ‘Gaisce Glas’ earlier this year, a 13 week pilot program facilitated by Gaisce – The President’s Award focusing on enabling young people to engage with climate justice and building capacity to share learnings and actions with their wider communities.